Parker turning heads in competitive receiver battle
Preston Parker cradled a perfect pass from quarterback Josh Freeman in the corner of the end zone and made sure he got both feet down in bounds during a team red zone period Tuesday at the Bucs mandatory minicamp.
He leaped high to chest bump a few teammates on the way back to the sideline, just a reminder that Parker's game is on the rise.
Last season, Parker, 25, played a vital role as the Bucs third down specialist and finished second among wideouts with 40 receptions for 554 yards and three touchdowns. He also was the team's primary kickoff and punt return man. Freeman has singled him out as one of the Bucs most improved players.
"Just singling you out like that, it's great to hear that,'' Parker said. "I'm glad he's saying my name and I'm going to show him he can come to me on third down or any down.''
Coach Greg Schiano said Tuesday the receiver position is among the most competitive on the team, along with defensive back. In addition to Parker behind starting wideouts Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, the Bucs have Arrelious Benn, Sammie Strougher, Dezmon Briscoe, Tiquan Underwood and Ed Gant, among others.
"I think he's improving quite a bit, both as a returner and a wide receiver,'' Schiano said of Parker. "Not that he wasn't productive before, because he was. But I see him doing things that are really going to be helpful. That's why I said the competition at wideout I think is excellent and the cream will rise to the top.''